Municipal Elections 2022 
North Cowichan and Cowichan Valley Regional District

Candidates for North Cowichan Mayor

Tell us a bit about yourself and why you have chosen to run in this election.


I was born and raised in North Cowichan and have lived here my entire life. My wife and I live near Mount Tzouhalem with our two daughters in the neighbourhood where I grew up and my family has been here for more than 60 years. I am currently employed as a director of post-secondary education and skills training with the provincial government, where I have been for almost 14 years. Prior to that I worked in pulp and paper, forestry, and construction.

We are facing a number of growing challenges in North Cowichan, from a lack of affordable housing and homelessness, to environmental degradation and the effects of climate change, to a loss of high-paying jobs and a rising cost of living. Local government can’t solve all these problems on its own, but we do have the tools to make a difference.

As a life-long resident with a strong track record as a municipal councillor and community volunteer, I know I can provide the strong leadership and new ideas that the municipality will need to work with the next Council, local residents and business, and First Nations to address the big issues facing the community.

 

How would you find a balance between preserving rural neighborhoods while allowing for secondary dwellings for aging in place?


Consistent with the new Official Community Plan (OCP), I would strongly discourage further subdivision of parcels with rural designations outside the Urban Containment Boundary (UCB), but am open to secondary dwellings on rural lands where appropriate, including coach houses or garden suites for landowners to age in place or provide housing for elderly parents or adult children. The Municipality has already begun moving in this direction by adopting the Second Dwelling Rural Lands Policy, and recently began updating the Zoning Bylaw to allow accessory dwellings units in rural zoned properties larger than 2 hectares (A-1, A-2, A-3, and A-5).
 

Do you believe focusing on the development of affordable rental and supportive housing is a priority and, if yes, how would you do so?


Absolutely. As Mayor of North Cowichan, one of my top priorities would be to adopt a new affordable housing strategy that includes concrete actions to expand the affordable housing supply, including:

Requiring all major housing developments to include a minimum percentage of units affordable for low and moderate income households.

Fast-tracking the development approval process for garden suites and coach houses by providing pre-approved designs not requiring individual form and character review.

Encouraging co-op and non-profit housing developments by fast-tracking applications, providing municipal land, and waiving development cost charges and building fees.

Lobbying the federal and provincial government for funding to build affordable housing in North Cowichan.

Introducing land use policies and bylaws to encourage affordable housing, such as rental-only zoning, density bonusing, and infill development.

What is your position on the densification of existing neighborhoods and urban sprawl?

 

I fully support the direction of the new Official Community Plan (OCP) of concentrating future growth and development within the designated Growth Centers within the reduced Urban Containment Boundary (UCB), which will allow us to protect rural and natural lands from sprawl development and more sustainably manage our existing infrastructure.

Residents of the Sahtlam neighbourhood and those who use the trails in the area for recreation and cultural purposes are affected by intrusive noise from the Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit which was approved without any requirements for noise mitigation. Since businesses are exempt from North Cowichan noise by-laws, what strategies would you employ to protect residents and visitors from this noise pollution?

 

I would support revising North Cowichan’s Noise Bylaw to respond to neighbourhood complaints related to noise pollution, and would look to learn from noise bylaws in other B.C. municipalities for best practices related to noise mitigation.  

Tell us a bit about yourself and why you have chosen to run in this election.

 

I live in the Westholme area of North Cowichan and have a diverse background in community building and engagement on environmental, housing and poverty issues. I strongly believe that we need to learn from each other and work together in government and in the community on these issues if we want to have affordable, safe and healthy communities, which is why I am running for Mayor of North Cowichan. After 4 years on Council, I know that I can set the stage for collaborative leadership both at the Council table and in the community through respectful dialogue and sound governance. I see myself as a candidate in the middle of the political spectrum who has gained the trust of those on all sides, and will build on this trust to find solutions that will work for all in our communities.

 

How would you find a balance between preserving rural neighborhoods while allowing for secondary dwellings for aging in place?

 

With the current increased costs of housing and other living expenses, it's important we provide opportunities for families, friends and neighbours to support each other - especially following the COVID-19 pandemic. Aging in place is key to remaining connected to the community and to retain the support networks that people have developed over their lifetime. I believe including secondary dwellings is an asset to rural neighbourhoods as long as we respectfully preserve environmental, agricultural and other ecological assets. I believe it has more opportunity to create tighter knit family units and neighbourhoods, especially for those who may otherwise feel isolated when living outside of our more urban core centers.  

 

Do you believe focusing on the development of affordable rental and supportive housing is a priority and if yes, how would you do so?

 

Absolutely. Council will soon be receiving a draft Affordable Housing Policy from North Cowichan staff for consideration and adoption, which I believe is necessary. This policy should be considered in participation with the development community who can provide realistic insights on how they envision being able to provide below market units considering the current rise in construction costs and interest rates.

Advocating to higher levels of government for funding of both affordable, non-market housing and supportive housing is also key. With the addition of the supportive housing, Sq’umul’ Shelh Lelum’ on Paddle Rd, North Cowichan demonstrated to BC Housing that we are open to working collaboratively to have this type of housing in our municipality, which has positioned us for additional units in the future. The key to this type of housing is to provide services that residents require to be able to live healthy lives once housed, as well as funding for residents to take initiative in ensuring the neighbourhood surrounding their home is safe, clean and welcoming for everyone.

Actively updated data on our projected growth rates, current vacancy rates and our point in time homelessness counts will ensure we have the most current information for communicating our needs to senior levels of government. Collaboration on potential new locations for any new supportive housing buildings is paramount to their successful integration into any potential neighbourhood. 

Ultimately, we need housing for everyone, even those who won't qualify for non-market housing. 

 

What is your position on the densification of existing neighborhoods and urban sprawl?

 

A mix of low and high densification of urban areas is helpful to providing diverse housing options close to amenities and services. This promotes walkability and the use of active and public transportation. Incorporating parks, shared community spaces and public art is also important for creating community connections and beautification. Ensuring trees are planted for shade and cleaner air is becoming increasingly important with our hotter summers.

Preventing urban sprawl saves us on short-term and long-term costs from expanding infrastructure away from our core areas. 

When we focus growth in our urban cores, we need to ensure existing residents in those neighbourhoods are part of the planning that will occur over time.

One challenge with increasing density in some of our core areas, such as University Village, is that much of it lies within the floodplain and will therefore require flood construction measures to be taken which will be an added cost to construction. Another challenge is the limited space readily available for rentals and mix-family housing. Much of the land already consists of single-family homes which will need to be bulk purchased and then deconstructed or removed before higher density housing can be built.

With the new hospital being built on Bell McKinnon, it will require the infrastructure along with it. This is an opportune time to add a mix of housing options with commercial and other services that will support the hospital and has a plan to include shared community spaces, is walkable and has active and public transportation connections to other core centers in North Cowichan and the Region more broadly. 

 

Residents of the Sahtlam neighbourhood and those who use the trails in the area for recreation and cultural purposes are affected by intrusive noise from the Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit which was approved without any requirements for noise mitigation. Since businesses are exempt from North Cowichan noise by-laws, what strategies would you employ to protect residents and visitors from this noise pollution?

 

Everyone should be able to enjoy peace and comfort in their homes and neighbourhoods. Council's decision to deny the proposed expansion of Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit (VIMC) unfortunately meant that the noise mitigation measures proposed would not be implemented.

The denial also led to legal action against the municipality which has recently been resolved. It wouldn’t have been appropriate to engage with VIMC during that legal action, but now that it is complete, if elected, I would prioritize meeting with VIMC to attempt to determine how we can work towards implementing some of the noise mitigation measures that were proposed in the expansion.

I believe respectful dialogue is the best way to resolve this issue, and I am committed to initiating that dialogue with both VIMC and the broader community to find a way forward that takes into account all perspectives.

Mr. Koury did not provide answers.

Recently, the Sahtlam Neighbourhood Association reached out to local residents for their questions for election candidates. Three of those questions were sent to candidates, and below are their replies. 

Candidates for North Cowichan Council

CHRISTOPHER JUSTICE

Tell us something  about yourself and why you have chosen to run in this election.

 

My family has lived in the Cowichan Valley for a couple of generations. After earning a doctorate degree in health and social sciences, I taught at McMaster University and conducted a wide variety of research in global and multicultural health issues. Fourteen years ago, our family moved back to the Valley. I was elected to Council in 2018. Before that I was an active member of several organizations focused on local issues: a member of the North Cowichan Environmental Advisory Committee, a director of the Social Planning Cowichan society, and a director of the Quamichan Watershed Stewardship Society. With the completion of a new and very thoughtful Official Community Plan, the next Council will have to make difficult decisions that will affect the future of the Valley and the quality of life of residents young and old – decisions that will directly affect such things as housing affordability, local economy, the environment, community growth, and taxation. I believe that together we can find creative solutions to the pressing problems our community is facing while protecting and even enhancing the natural environment, the character of our existing neighbourhoods and towns, and the quality of life we are so lucky to enjoy here.

 

How would you find a balance between preserving rural neighborhoods while allowing for secondary dwellings for aging in place?

While certain areas of the housing sector are well served, there is a well-understood need for both more inexpensive, subsidized, or social housing and an imperative to provide needed housing options for young families and seniors who want to stay where they have lived or grown up. This is documented in the recent regional Housing Needs Assessment.

Through thoughtful, well considered land use policy and regulation, development incentives, and revised development approval processes, North Cowichan can create conditions favourable for the development of more affordable forms of housing and the right kinds of housing in the right places. It's important we find ways to protect and regenerate these environments while still accommodating the growth and change anticipated in our community. I believe the Municipality can address this challenge through carefully crafted policies and strategies that will both protect and restore natural areas and systems and lead to development that is better integrated with its surrounding environments. I have been an advocate for neighbourhood groups and I commit to ensuring that the residents of our unique neighbourhoods are given meaningful voice and priority in determining their own futures and supporting neighbourhoods that wish to create a vision for their future in local neighbourhood plans

Do you believe focusing on the development of affordable rental and supportive housing is a priority and if yes, how would you do so?

 

Yes. there is a well-documented need for much more inexpensive, subsidized, or social housing for low-income households in our community. These are growing and widespread issues common to communities throughout BC, requiring action at all levels of government.  

At the local level, the municipality of North Cowichan is currently developing a stand-alone affordable housing strategy to help us use the available policy tools. Certainly, a part of the solution is increasing supply of affordable housing units that meet the needs of current residents as documented in the recent regional Housing Needs Assessment.

There are a number of things we can do we can do to support the development of affordable rental and supportive housing including: incentivizing a variety of housing types (by size, type, tenure, density) integrated into existing villages and neighbourhoods, that meet the anticipated needs of the whole community in quality and quantity; assessing how proposals for new housing meet the needs identified in the most recent Housing Needs Assessment Report; directing residential development to Village Centres where full services are available within a walkable or rideable distance, and where transportation costs are potentially lower and; considering ways to streamline development approval processes for projects that align with the Municipality's affordable housing and environmental policies

What is your position on the densification of existing neighborhoods and urban sprawl?

 

I am strongly against urban sprawl. Certainly, some growth is inevitable. It will allow us to meet housing needs and demands, and it will serve as an engine for prosperity. However, unplanned and unfocused development is wasteful of land, costly in the long term, and often results in the loss of qualities that are highly valued by residents and others in our community. It is essential to retain significant and connected land areas for agriculture and wildlife and to consider the long-term cost of infrastructure expansion and the carrying capacity of both built and natural environments.

After almost 4 years of community engagement, the Municipality has recently adopted a new Official Community Plan which provides a coherent framework for guiding growth over the coming decades to meet the community's goals without urban sprawl. With the community's collective vision in hand, the task is now the implementation of that vision.

Residents of the Sahtlam neighbourhood and those who use the trails in the area for recreation and cultural purposes are affected by intrusive noise from the Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit which was approved without any requirements for noise mitigation. Since businesses are exempt from North Cowichan noise by-laws, what strategies would you employ to protect residents and visitors from this noise pollution?

 

Communities should be places that nourish us and protect us from harmful things. There is lots of evidence that unwanted and excessive noise have many negative effects on our well being. So, a thoughtful state-of-the-art noise regulation bylaw is a top priority for the entire community. Our current noise bylaw does not apply to everyone in a given noise zone and is based just on loudness and not other units of noise measurement. An up to date noise bylaw should apply to everyone and should recognise tone, cadence and frequency - as well as decibels - to address complaints about noise that may be within allowable loudness limits but may still be disturbing.

KATE MARSH

 

Tell us a bit about yourself and why you have chosen to run in this election.


I have served on North Cowichan Council for 11 years, 7 of those also on the CVRD, and 4 at the Hul’qu’mi’num treaty main table. I have Chaired the  Environment Committee during the 2023 Climate Action Plan and the newly modelled plan this year.  The implementation of the new OCP, the completion of the review of the highest and best uses of our forests, as well as a Biodiversity policy are all things that I would like to be part of.


How would you find a balance between preserving rural neighborhoods while allowing for secondary dwellings for aging in place?

 

The ALC is allowing suites and a second dwelling on ALR land that is being farmed.  It makes sense to look at allowing non ALR land that is being farmed the same opportunity. 

Do you believe focusing on the development of affordable rental and supportive housing is a priority and if yes, how would you do so?


Yes. Housing First is a known improver of health and reducer of other taxes from policing to healthcare.  Continuing to pass Development permits in the Urban Containment Boundary, and lobbying senior government for funding. Reverend Keith Simmonds had an idea that is worth pursuing with senior government.  With Council support to suggest homes creating non-market rental suites or carriage housing be granted $100,000, or ? With  covenant that runs with the property for lower affordable  or non market rents for a period of time.  This would be a win for homeowners , tenants and trades, building supply stores etc, and contribute to a local economy.  It could also address the heath impacts  of loneliness for singles, which medical  health literature has found is worse for health than smoking.  Incentivizing this program saves land costs and could assist new homeowners and seniors and anyone who wished, to get a mortgage or tax saving from the income. 
 
What is your position on the densification of existing neighborhoods and urban sprawl?

 

I believe that in urban cores we must begin the transition to denser forms of housing, for climate and biodiversity sake. I am not at all in favour of sprawl.


Residents of the Sahtlam neighbourhood and those who use the trails in the area for recreation and cultural purposes are affected by intrusive noise from the Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit which was approved without any requirements for noise mitigation. Since businesses are exempt from North Cowichan noise by-laws, what strategies would you employ to protect residents and visitors from this noise pollution?

 

Getting the neighbourhood, the track, First Nations if they would like to be involved and the Municipality at the same table to discuss solutions would be a start.  Hopefully the  track will want to be good neighbours and take on some serious noise mitigation. It seems important to discuss what one car on the track at a time looked like to Council when they agreed to sell the land and the situation that currently exists, with time trials etc. can be discussed. If they are not amenable, I hope Council will seriously consider any and all ways they can ensure that the area surrounding the track hears much less noise.

MIKE CALJOUW


Tell us a bit about yourself and why you have chosen to run in this election.


I love this place. I have been part of the Cowichan area for 54 years, since I was 11 years old. And my
wife Gabi and I have chosen to stay here to raise our two sons and hope they can stay here to raise their
families.
Local politics is in my blood, as my dad was a City Councillor in Duncan for 32 years. It is from him that I
learned the value of community service and that you can make a difference when elected to local
government.
I will bring some important thing to council.  Current North Cowichan council is impaired in
effective decision making by certain people voting on party lines and so distracted by its
internal conflicts that it has stalled in making progress for this community. Instead, our
community needs us to move above individual agendas and siloed thoughts to tackle the
significant challenges it faces. I will help to build a cohesive and effective council because I am:
 A free-thinking and open-minded person, able to consider each issue before council on
its own merit. I don’t vote on party lines
 A calm and reasonable person, who actively listens
 Able to build bridges between people with different viewpoints
 A strong team player who celebrates diversity
 Able to work with whomever else is elected to Council.
North Cowichan has also gotten away from its core mandate – roads, sewers, water, facilitating
development while protecting the environment. I will work to bring focus back to the table.
I also think the taxpayer has been forgotten in a rush of spending and that higher fiscal responsibility
needs to be in place.
I will dedicate myself to improve this community in as many ways as possible so our current and future
generations can work and live here happily and healthily.

How would you find a balance between preserving rural neighbourhoods while allowing for
secondary dwellings for aging in place?


The aging Baby Boomer population in conjunction with a lack of attainable housing supply is challenging
us to look for new solutions so our elders can age in place with important community and family
supports. Carriage homes or so-called ‘Granny suites’ can be one option to solving this issue. It is
important, however, to remember that there are both provincial and municipal zoning laws, like the
ALR, that must be followed. Things like ensuring setbacks are adhered to and that viable farmland is not
destroyed are important factors to consider. It is a win-win that I fully support, when we find ways to
create these secondary dwellings AND preserve rural neighbourhoods.

Do you believe focusing on the development of affordable rental and supportive housing is a
priority and if yes, how would you do so?


We have been facing a housing crisis in North Cowichan driven by a lack of supply. There have not been
enough homes available at any part of the housing continuum – from small to large, expensive to
inexpensive, single family to multi-family, rental to owned. It is simple economics that when the
demand exceeds the supply for anything, prices go up. The critical and urgent first step is the creation
of more housing across the spectrum, including rental housing. North Cowichan can play a role here by
streamlining its processes to promote growth and development and make it smoother and quicker for
developers to expedite these projects through municipal departments.
Although linked to this supply issue, supportive housing is a stand-alone concern. The provincial
government plays an essential role here. North Cowichan needs to meet and collaborate with the
correct offices of the provincial government to assure that North Cowichan is a priority for supportive
housing initiatives.
I will be a champion for increasing housing supply and creating effective working relationships with the
provincial government with respect to supportive housing.


What is your position on the densification of existing neighbourhoods and urban sprawl?


You don’t hear people say, “I am going to downtown North Cowichan”. Instead, you hear people say, “I
am headed to Crofton”, or Chemainus, or Cowichan Commons…..North Cowichan is a community of
communities, spread out geographically. By our very nature, we are a sprawl community. This is not a
bad thing for us, as it allows jewels of densification within our rural environment. Focusing
development in these core areas makes sense. Building up rather than out, increasing housing supply,
with community-based green space, increasing walkability, and supporting the environment.


Residents of the Sahtlam neighbourhood and those who use the trails in the area for
recreation and cultural purposes are affected by intrusive noise from the Vancouver Island
Motorsport Circuit which was approved without requirements for noise mitigation. Since
businesses are exempt from North Cowichan noise by-laws, what strategies would you employ
to protect residents and visitors from this noise pollution?


The conflict between communities and local government regarding the Motorsport Circuit has sadly
deteriorated into a polarized, accusatory situation. It is time to address this issue directly. I suggest that
all stakeholders gather for a civilized, calm conversation to look at real and viable solutions around
things like noise mitigation, hours of operations and such. Coming to resolution will not be easy,
however, this hard work must be done. As a bridge-builder by nature, I think I will be a useful voice at
the table and would encourage North Cowichan to go a step further and hire a neutral, outside
facilitator or mediator to assist.

ELIZABETH CROFT

 

Tell us a bit about yourself and why you have chosen to run in this election.

I’m ambitious about making good things happen. It’s incredibly gratifying to work together, and build the world the we want to live and work in.

I have 25+ years of governance experience on national, local and provincial Boards of Directors for industry associations and non-profits. This includes: SD79 School Trustee, Our Cowichan Health Care Network Administration Team, Cowichan Public Art Gallery, and the Raptor Rescue Society. When we lived in Coquitlam, I was a founding Director for the Oakdale Neighbourhood Association – which is going strong today.

I’m good at governance and arrive with the experience and relationships to listen and hit the ground running. This favours success and I’m driven to be successful for and with constituents.

 

 North Cowichan can be positive about the future. The Overall Community Plan reflects significant community input. Consultation is required for its implementation – so there are ongoing opportunities to shape the community. People spoke clearly about what they like and what they want in North Cowichan – that’s a marvelous resource as the new Mayor and Councillors take office.


How would you find a balance between preserving rural neighborhoods while allowing for secondary dwellings for aging in place?

The zoning and provincial regulations already favour (small) seniors’ facilities in private homes and they are dotted throughout our community. The ones I’m familiar with are in rural settings. I would be interested to hear of examples where this arrangement, or if secondary dwellings for aging in place has caused concern. Please connect on this if/as you feel appropriate.

 

Aging in place is equally a matter of services in the home as it is about location. My only hesitation about aging in place rurally, is that isolation is a significant consideration for seniors and predicts poorer mental and physical health.

 

 That said, residents should clearly have options. Secondary dwellings can be thoughtfully, and attractively installed on acreages and large lots without damaging a rural aesthetic. Permitting must hold the applicant to high standards for privacy, access, consultation, and preserving trees.

 

Do you believe focusing on the development of affordable rental and supportive housing is a priority and if yes, how would you do so?

 

There is no community on Vancouver Island that can maintain a population or workforce without attracting new residents. We don’t have an adequate birth rate and demographics are skewed toward (near) retirees. Therefore, we require accommodation for first time home buyers, young families, young singles and so on. So yes, that’s an important focus.

I think the Overall Community Plan looks good in this regard. Urban containment areas are small in comparison to the full land base. With the exception of the Bell McKinnon corridor, all are in existing village centres. In today’s market, moderate density – meaning a mix of low rise, townhomes, starter single family homes – is an effective strategy to introduce affordable homes and rentals. Density puts downward pressure on taxes because more residents pay for services and infrastructure.

 Supported housing is an imperative, but an enormously complicated one when it comes to location. There had been hope that supported housing would reduce crime because the (previously) unhoused would have the services they need. Early data and anecdotal tend toward the opposite. Even so, having spoken with the RCMP, they see supported housing as a positive step forward.

 

 Supported housing has enormous success in returning residents to independence, health and the workforce – we should strive toward having enough supported housing to end homelessness, provide for families in need and deliver strategies so the facilities exist peaceably in the community. Generally speaking, agencies and their clients both prefer central locations.

Locating supported housing will and should require significant resources in public consultation. Social agencies must develop/provide strategies that ensure supported housing exists comfortably and safely wherever it’s placed. It will be Council’s job to ensure the community has the time and information it needs to locate facilities. It should also consider suitable locations on municipally owned lands.

 

What is your position on the densification of existing neighborhoods and urban sprawl?

We have a lot of land in North Cowichan, and very low population density (163 per sq. km. For comparison, Victoria is 495) We’re lucky – we can have it “both ways”. Moderate density, surrounded by farms, acreages and recreation. If we keep to the OCP urban containment boundaries, I don’t see opportunities for sprawl and certainly don’t support it.

 I’m a fan of walkable, cyclable neighbourhoods – with a mix of shops, affordable housing, paths and a generous sprinkling of parks and recreation. In the case of Bell McKinnon corridor, it’s a blank slate … optimal for innovative, planning and design. Affordable builds are only achievable with some density – low rise, town homes, cluster housing. Densification can and must be held to standards that ensure neighbourhoods are beautiful, walkable, safe and welcoming.

 

Many larger centres have mature neighbourhoods with infill, carriage houses, suites etc. It works when trees are preserved, entrances and walkways are positioned for privacy. I believe we can achieve the same and that people should have the option to have long term rentals in a second suite or building on their land  that adheres to standards.


Residents of the Sahtlam neighbourhood and those who use the trails in the area for recreation and cultural purposes are affected by intrusive noise from the Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit which was approved without any requirements for noise mitigation. Since businesses are exempt from North Cowichan noise by-laws, what strategies would you employ to protect residents and visitors from this noise pollution?

Based on our conversation of a few days ago, I sense people are feeling that the potential solutions/strategies have been exhausted or rejected. The dialogue about the matter with the Circuit came to a halt. The Municipality doesn’t have solutions or the apparent appetite to work on the matter. It sounds like the Circuit doesn’t respect the community’s concerns, things are misconstrued and the parties don’t agree on the most basic of facts. I am so sorry the community has to go through this.

One of the things I learned as a Trustee, is that even when there aren’t ready solutions, the parties should still connect and converse. It takes patience, tenacity and forbearance. It’s tough to say how to heal the relationship – but it surely will never resolve when communication stops. I recognize the issue spans two jurisdictions – North Cowichan and the Cowichan Valley Regional District. Even so, if you feel a North Cowichan Councillor could help, if I’m elected, I would be glad to help set up meetings, encourage dialogue, attend, ask questions and listen. I also question why businesses have carte blanche when it comes to noise and would definitely look into the viability of revising that.

ADRIENNE RICHARDS


Tell us a bit about yourself and why you have chosen to run in this election.

 

I am a mother who moved her family here 14 years ago for the rural lifestyle. I worked for 11 years very closely with small businesses, as well volunteered, and am very dedicated to keeping the valley a wonderful place for my children to grow up in, and find work in. I chose to run in the elections because I feel that local issues are not being addressed in a timely manner, and I also feel that some plans for our future currently laid out, do not coincide with what many citizens see as a future for the valley, and our lifestyles. Instead of complaining and feeling helpless, I decided to be active in our democratic process.

How would you find a balance between preserving rural neighborhoods while allowing for secondary dwellings for aging in place?

 

I absolutely believe in preserving our rural feel, I moved from the city to live this lifestyle ( though sadly, I am currently living in a proposed "Growth Centre" , which will vastly change my neigbourhood.)

I feel that the red tape around property owners being able to host a Trailer, or build tiny homes, in-law suites, secondary dwellings , needs to be removed, as it is not only the aging, it is people like my children who can not afford to live and work in Duncan. I would like to be able to build a small home, or place a trailer for my children to live in.

Do you believe focusing on the development of affordable rental and supportive housing is a priority and if yes, how would you do so?

 

I believe in TRUE affordable housing, not "below market value" housing being sold as "affordable". I have spent hours researching this topic, as it is so complex because you have the province and the Federal Government involved, more so than the local government for the most part. I  searched solutions globally that have worked and found that, for the most part, the successful projects are either locally led, or are a unique model that has full government backing. When we depend on the province or the federal government, often there are strings attached, that so far have failed to help our crises in anyway. For instance, one of the successful models I found is called "Housing First". This model is used in many areas with a very high success rate. I looked at the municipal budget for the next few years and see the Federal Government is giving us $500.000 per year for housing, BUT there is a caviate that states it can not be used for Housing First Projects, this was odd to me.

I also feel that by allowing folks to help ease the affordable housing strain by cutting red tape that stops small secondary homes, on peoples property, and by allowing folks to provide "housing" even with a trailer on their property that is not deemed "illegal"

What is your position on the densification of existing neighborhoods and urban sprawl?

 

As I mentioned above, I live in what is deemed as a "growth Centre". I am not in favour of micro-density, multi story buildings bring crammed into small neigbourhoods like mine. There seems to be no balance between allowing a landowner to place a tiny home on their property, and the extreme of saying the only "solution" is to pick certain areas and build them into Langford type landscapes. 

I was looking into the 'by-pass' topic about a month ago, and was speaking with a city planner from Victoria. Initially I thought a bypass was a great idea for congestion and idling problems we have now. He explained to me that every by-pass eventually becomes a landing place for box stores, sometimes one year sometimes in ten. This caused me to re-think that idea, and try to find another solution, as I would not like to create that type of urban sprawl.

Residents of the Sahtlam neighbourhood and those who use the trails in the area for recreation and cultural purposes are affected by intrusive noise from the Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit which was approved without any requirements for noise mitigation. Since businesses are exempt from North Cowichan noise by-laws, what strategies would you employ to protect residents and visitors from this noise pollution?

This is a topic I am not going to pretend to know all about, however, I would like to learn more from local residents. I followed somewhat via newspaper and on-line articles, but got a tad lost in the whole court proceeding part. I can't understand why businesses do not have noise bylaws though. Until I understand the jurisdiction around this, all that would immediately pops into my head, is why can't N.C. plant a barrier of trees, or make the track do so, or set time limits? As I said, I apologize for not being more knowledgeable on this important topic. I am trying to delve into the multitude of jurisdictional issues right now and their history, from Quamichan Lake to the forest reserve. I will promise to listen and become more clear around the Speed Track noise problem moving forward though.

JOSEPH ENSLOW


Tell us a bit about yourself and why you have chosen to run in this election.

 

My name is Joseph Enslow, I'm a father to 3 wonderful children. I own a small hobby business, my full time career is in coaching, development, and leadership for the past 15 years. I am running because I believe I can support families throughout North Cowichan who love to call this community their home. Our area is growing at a tremendous rate, a lot of people simply say "We've been found". Because of this, we are at a pivotal time to decide how we want to grow as a community. In my experience North Cowichan isn't an area you just find yourself in, people choose to come here. They come here for the small town vibe and wonderful landscape. Preserving our small community, local businesses, and island feel is very important to me. Regardless how we decide to move forward with development and expansion, I want locals to help shape that in every way possible.

How would you find a balance between preserving rural neighborhoods while allowing for secondary dwellings for aging in place?

 

My first preference would go to secondary dwellings on existing land, such as suites, carriage homes, tiny homes, auxiliary buildings. Second would be conversion of larger homes into duplex, tri-plex, or four plex. These offer an opportunity to expand without losing much of the rural feeling. After those, I would support tiny home parks and perhaps even community living with shared amenities. The last thing I wish to support in the rural areas are apartment buildings. I understand the need in some of the more dense areas, but within a reasonable amount. North Cowichan in my belief doesn't lend itself well to the concrete-city and I'd prefer to maintain the green spaces as much as possible.

Do you believe focusing on the development of affordable rental and supportive housing is a priority and if yes, how would you do so?

 

The primary issue here is simply lack of availability. Despite some of the motions to approve larger developments, the reality is most residents here don't want it in their own backyard. It becomes one of those, I support it if it doesn't impact me, type of scenarios. To keep up with demand we need to have some higher density areas, as long as we don't get carried away. I'm a huge fan of sticking to what works and not over complicating the process. Let's get enough supportive housing in place to edge us out of the 'severe' category for affordability then look at the bigger picture on how we want to continue with development for projects the community can actually get behind.

What is your position on the densification of existing neighborhoods and urban sprawl?

 

Once again, in my experience residents in North Cowichan aren't overly happy packing more into the space we have. Although being good neighbours I think we all understand the need to develop. As part of the existing OCP, it's suggested we can pack a lot more people into small spaces if we cut back on driving. I think we get a little dangerous to keep stacking future expectations on top of the way we live. We can have one without the other, and it's best not to over complicate the situation. Expanding purposefully into our urban areas and allowing rezoning can bring new homes into areas that are currently underutilized. This doesn't mean writing a blank cheque, it just means we need to be okay with ideas and strategies that don't 100% conform to the OCP. It was supposed to be a living document after all, let's let it live a little.
 

Residents of the Sahtlam neighbourhood and those who use the trails in the area for recreation and cultural purposes are affected by intrusive noise from the Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit which was approved without any requirements for noise mitigation. Since businesses are exempt from North Cowichan noise by-laws, what strategies would you employ to protect residents and visitors from this noise pollution?

I've had the opportunity to visit some of the areas around Sahtlam on the race days, it's actually quite remarkable how far the sound can travel. This is one of those sticky topics because as I understand it, the track is legally conforming at the moment. What we can do, is take this as a learning experience. I realize this doesn't mitigate the current issue, but it does allow us to review future developments and where/how they should be considered. I would be very open to hearing more about the situation and if elected, I would take the time to bring myself up to speed on this so I could speak more toward possible solutions.

BRUCE FINDLAY

Tell us a bit about yourself and why you have chosen to run in this election.

 
I am a North Cowichan resident & business owner, frustrated with the direction of the current council. We have had a housing crisis for several years, and no approved large developments within those four years of this council. I am pro-small business & pro-development, looking to promote different options for home ownership & quality rentals, along with an "open for business" mindset. I am pro-sustainable resource development. I believe we need to have significantly more community engagement when moving forward on major decisions & infrastructure projects. I believe our property taxes for residents are far too high & we need to tear the budgets apart, line by line, to find savings or efficiencies.

How would you find a balance between preserving rural neighborhoods while allowing for secondary dwellings for aging in
place?
 
I believe that any property should have an option for a secondary dwelling (or more, depending on lot size, sewer/septic & water concerns being met), and easy access to temporary use permits especially in the very near-term, which should help alleviate some housing pressure. Forcing seniors to move away from their neighbourhoods in rural locations, just because secondary dwellings are not permitted under current zoning or the OCP, is ridiculous, especially for properties of size. When we meet in person, ask me about my "Agri-Condo" idea - it's not nearly as nefarious an idea as the name suggests ;)

Do you believe focusing on the development of affordable rental and supportive housing is a priority and if yes, how would you do so?
 
Affordable & supporting housing options really are the province's domain. Given land & construction costs, it is basically impossible for developers to build the homes we need and keep them "affordable". However, by permitting new market-rate developments to move forward, when they are completed they will encourage many in older rentals to move to the new developments, opening up homes for rent/ownership in older locations, generally at lower rent levels. Once the demand is met by supply, more affordability will ensue. Again, when we meet in person, ask me about demand/supply with my Fort McMurray story.

What is your position on the densification of existing neighborhoods and urban sprawl?
Densification increases land costs which defeats the purpose of the idea. I don't believe we have an "urban sprawl" concern in North Cowichan. In order for that to happen, we have to truly have an "urban" first. I was just in Calgary, and landing in the airport you can definitely see what true "urban sprawl" looks like. I have no problem with up-zoning properties on a site-specific situation, but to pre-determine urban-focused densification isn't the right focus for our current housing crisis.

Residents of the Sahtlam neighbourhood and those who use the trails in the area for recreation and cultural purposes are affected by intrusive noise from the Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit which was approved without any requirements for noise mitigation. Since businesses are exempt from North Cowichan noise by-laws, what strategies would you employ to protect residents and visitors from this noise pollution?
This is a situation I do not know enough about, but will be researching prior to the meeting in October.

CHRIS ISTACE



Tell us a bit about yourself and why you have chosen to run in this election.

 

My name is Chris Istace and I own a local small retail business in Chemainus where my family and I call home as well. Alongside my experience of 20 years as a small business owner I bring 21 years in operations management in the resource industry. Additionally I served in my previous community as a two term elected city councillor. I currently volunteer my time as President of the Chemainus Business Improvement Association of which I have been on the board of directors for 7 years. Co-currently I have served on the board of Directors of the Cowichan Trail Stewardship Society for the same length of time. The past 20 years culminate in strong knowledge of governance, understanding diversity of residents and their wants and needs in the region, importance of a healthy supported business community and very importantly respect and awareness of managing cash flow and creating budgets that achieve their goals. 

 

I have chosen to run for council to take the next step in my continued efforts of being a passionate, engaged community builder and supporter. I care deeply for the people and places of North Cowichan where being on council will allow me to serve and work on the many concerns of the region that lie ahead. I have been actively engaged as a resident and business owner at council meetings, open houses, surveys and with local groups on tough topics and I am ready to bring this experience with me. 


My key concerns are to work collectively with my fellow councillors to tackle the challenges of growth in a sensitive time for our youth, economy, and environment. We need to work together as a community to support those in need like residents trying to afford a stable place to live, needing easy access to transit or wanting to walk and ride, concerned about cost of living, wanting local employment opportunities, and concerned about our changing climate in the valley and elsewhere.  My extended platform can be found at www.ChrisIstace.com 


How would you find a balance between preserving rural neighborhoods while allowing for secondary dwellings for aging in place?

 

When I look at secondary homes on rural property I think back to growing up in Saskatchewan and when the family grew and the kids wanted to stay with their family, often to run the farm, a second home was built. In my eyes this is something we should encourage, in the past several decades families have grown apart when previous to this shift they remained in the same extended household or property. This would equally give young adults a chance to afford to build a home in North Cowichan on their families property so we don't continue to see an affordability exodus of our children. Equally with many now providing car for their aging parents due to a seniors supportive housing crisis this would allow those seniors the desire to still live independently but with the close caring support of their children close by. We would need to work closely with residents and North Cowichan planning & development departments to ensure a clear process is created but doesn't allow excessive rural development to occur that doesn't meet the goals of the zoning change. 


Do you believe focusing on the development of affordable rental and supportive housing is a priority and if yes, how would you do so?

 

For so many decades now the provincial and federal governments have been offloading their responsibilities of providing social and supportive housing to the municipal levels of government who have limited means and income streams outside of property taxes. The absolute top priority is to hold those upper levels of government to account for this and for them to make the necessary investment locally in housing for our residents. Council can work within the new OCP and zoning to find the land and incentive the process through tools at their disposal to bring government, private developers and housing mutually to the table. In addition I would push to incentivize our existing homeowners and residents to convert space in their homes for approved safe suites, granny flats on prospective garage builds, purchasing condos to be committed to rental space and also strongly explore carriage houses and lane homes. 


What is your position on the densification of existing neighborhoods and urban sprawl?

 

I have always been a huge advocate of well planned inward focused community neighbourhoods that offer mixed zoning where residents can work, live and play with ease. This is often termed "15 minute city" where you can walk from your home to most places in 15 minutes for your daily activities like going to school, getting groceries, stopping at the pharmacy, visiting the park and hopefully your work as well. This means allowing a wide range of home types in the same zoning and commercial as well, focusing inwards in a walkable (and bikeable) urban landscape. Residents get out more, communities become safer and businesses prosper.  

 

While there is no denying that I would prefer to see more infill and densification within North Cowichan's targeted growth centres (which i will advocate for first and foremost) there will be no way to tackle the monumental need for a massive increase in total housing inventory unless we develop new areas. This does not mean I support sprawl in the way we visualize them currently, large single family home developments with little to no amenities and very car dependent. Rather to tackle demand we will need to work with residents, developers and all stakeholders to grow sensibly into new areas that focus on people first for quality of life over car dependent new suburbs. This to me means exclusionary single family zoning can not be prioritized but rather mixed zoning that allows single family homes, duplexes, fourplexes, townhomes and small multi family buildings to exist in the same area with efficient land use. Additionally this zoning must not expand into greenfields, agriculture land, ecologically sensitive important zones and without important consideration of a changing climate that is rapidly changing how we live and work in the Cowichan region.


Residents of the Sahtlam neighbourhood and those who use the trails in the area for recreation and cultural purposes are affected by intrusive noise from the Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit which was approved without any requirements for noise mitigation. Since businesses are exempt from North Cowichan noise by-laws, what strategies would you employ to protect residents and visitors from this noise pollution?

 

The VIMC issue for North Cowichan and all involved is a tough thing to live with for all parties involved. My biggest concern has always been on how did we get here in the first place. It is paramount that policies be put in place for developments of this nature, or really any large scale operation that affects others far beyond its physical footprint have a clear policy with regards to operation and zoning in place. The process must be clear, easy to understand and most of all transparent for council, staff, the stakeholder and community at large to navigate through. If this can be achieved then we wouldn't be dealing with an issue that has consumed so much of the communities lives and councils focus that is desperately needed elsewhere. As a hiker & mountain bike rider who frequents Swuq'us (Mt Prevost) the sound on the upper slopes of the mountain was alarming when I first heard it, I felt a lot of empathy for the residents affected as I am able to go home and avoid the sound. On the other side of things I understand the passion for use of tracks as I raced sportbikes on a similar track elsewhere in the past. The owners because of a failure and flawed process where given assurances to operate and saw that changed on them. Government needs to do things correct from the start so that all involved are not engaged in such a tough situation that impacts their quality of life and ability to confidently do business in North Cowichan.  

CHARLES BORG

 

Tell us a bit about yourself and why you have chosen to run in this election.

 

I just concluded 10 years of service in the Canadian Armed Forces. I deployed around the world, serving in many international peacetime support missions. Throughout my career, I was responsible for team planning, data and information analysis, and briefing high-level government and military officials on timely and sensitive intelligence. My skills and background in the Forces will give North Cowichan a councillor who is honest, trustworthy and efficient. 

 

Since the age of 17, I have also been employed in the health and wellness industry as I’m very passionate about health and fitness. I’m currently the assistant manager at Anytime Fitness in Chemainus. I believe true health comes from balancing physical activity with proper nutrition, stress reduction and adequate sleep. 

 

I have chosen to run in this year’s election as I just finished serving my country and  now, I want to serve my community. I was introduced to North Cowichan by my beautiful fiancée, who has lived in Chemainus her entire life. I quickly fell in love with her and with all this wonderful town has to offer. The fresh air and clean water quickly convinced me this is the community I want to live in and raise my family in. 

 

Like many who are “struggling members of the middle class,” I am witnessing first-hand how little taxpayers are listened to and respected by our elected officials. This is a federal and provincial issue, but it’s a local issue too as there are local problems that council could address to raise the standard of living in North Cowichan. Businesses, families and individuals are struggling just to maintain their livelihoods, let alone try to get ahead. Our youth are moving to big cities in search of opportunity, and our retirees are watching their fixed incomes shrink due to the high cost of living. I am working hard to be on council to help these members of our community. 

 

How would you find a balance between preserving rural neighborhoods while allowing for secondary dwellings for aging in place?

 

I strongly believe people should be free to do with their own property as they wish, so long as they abide by the rules and regulations for land use set by the municipal council. Indeed, setting such requirements is a key council responsibility. That said, given the rising inflation and affordability issues we’re all experiencing, I fully support reviewing existing bylaw requirements to reduce lengthy and expensive red tape surrounding secondary dwellings such as garden and carriage homes and basement suites. We have a growing population to support, and the first way to do that is to have housing people can afford. Unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of housing that is affordable. I believe promoting secondary dwellings and rental suites will have a positive impact on preserving our rural neighborhoods as it will allow more people to live on existing land and utilize current developed areas more effectively. Secondary dwellings will also give property owners an additional source of income, helping families and individuals live a higher standard of living within our communities. 


Do you believe focusing on the development of affordable rental and supportive housing is a priority and if yes, how would you do so?

 

I believe focussing on affordable housing in general should be a top priority of council. That includes affordable market housing along with affordable rental housing and supportive housing. Not everyone wants or can afford to buy a home and for this reason we need rental housing. Similarly, some members of our community will never be able to live without some type of assistance or support. BC Housing describes supportive housing as “subsidized housing with on-site supports for single adults, seniors and people with disabilities at risk of or experiencing homelessness.” As a community, we need to work with BC Housing, the non-profit housing sector, and the provincial and federal governments, to build the housing our residents need. No single level of government can do this alone. 

What is your position on the densification of existing neighborhoods and urban sprawl?

 

There needs to be a balance between densifying our existing neighbourhoods, and populating our suburbs and rural areas. North Cowichan’s natural beauty is one of the things that makes our municipality special. Once we pave it over, it’s gone. So, there’s value in being very thoughtful about where we build. We also need to consider the cost of building. Streets, sidewalks, water and sewer lines—all of these are costly. One way to manage those costs is to build new housing within the existing ‘urban’ areas. This has the added benefit of helping preserve the natural areas people love so much. It’s always a balancing act; we need to consider what we need, what we can afford, and what future we’re creating for our children by our decisions. 

Residents of the Sahtlam neighbourhood and those who use the trails in the area for recreation and cultural purposes are affected by intrusive noise from the Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit which was approved without any requirements for noise mitigation. Since businesses are exempt from North Cowichan noise by-laws, what strategies would you employ to protect residents and visitors from this noise pollution?

 

I understand why residents of Sahtlam and the surrounding area are concerned about noise from the Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit. I was tagged in a Facebook video by an individual who lives in the area and that really opened my eyes to the noise levels residents are experiencing. Unfortunately, there is no easy solution to this issue. The land was purchased by the VIMC in 2014 and the track was approved by the council of the day with no noise abatement requirements whatsoever. Needless to say, this has made it extremely difficult for residents and for any future council to address the problem. I think we must work with VIMC to establish some constructive and creative sound-mitigation strategies. I acknowledge that this is easier said than done, as demonstrated by the countless hours residents and the current council have spent in public hearings on the matter. This is an important quality of life issue, so I support continuing to work together with all parties on creating effective solutions. Maybe it’s time for council to consider amending noise bylaws to include businesses? I don’t fully understand all of the possibilities, but we definitely need all parties at the table so we can all continue to work towards a solution. 

DANA ARTHURS

Tell us a bit about yourself and why you have chosen to run in this election.

 

I am running for Council because we need to add a new voice to council that represents forward thinking ideas, modern policies, optimism, and good governance

How would you find a balance between preserving rural neighborhoods while allowing for secondary dwellings for aging in place?

 

It is my feeling that the answers to this question would be more questions for the residents of the area that would be in question. Each neighbourhood has unique needs and history which would need to be considered before proceeding with a plan.


Do you believe focusing on the development of affordable rental and supportive housing is a priority and if yes, how would you do so?

 

Yes, when one looks at how our population here in the valley is changing as well as how the culture of the valley is changing we need to have a clear plan for affordable housing. Again as with your question above this is a community discussion. That being said it may be proactive for council to advocate the Federal and Provincial government to support funding for affordable housing projects. 

What is your position on the densification of existing neighborhoods and urban sprawl?

 

I have heard the term New Urbanism which focuses on revitalising areas in existing communities. Again I am not an expert and would be asking many questions, looking at what other areas have done well and not done well to learn.

Residents of the Sahtlam neighbourhood and those who use the trails in the area for recreation and cultural purposes are affected by intrusive noise from the Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit which was approved without any requirements for noise mitigation. Since businesses are exempt from North Cowichan noise by-laws, what strategies would you employ to protect residents and visitors from this noise pollution?

 

Again not an expert however I do have many questions and empathise with you. It is perplexing as to why there was no studies or such on the noise factor done prior to the tracks approval. My first question would be why after all these years has a Bylaw not been put forward for noise from a business?  

DEBRA TOPOROWSKI

Tell us a bit about yourself and why you have chosen to run in this election.

 

My name is Debra Toporowski. My Quw’utsun name is Qwulti’stunaat. I was born and raised in the Cowichan Valley, with a First Nation and Chinese Heritage. My mother is the late Ethel Jack and my father is Howard Wong. I have three brothers and two sisters.
 

I am a caring person who knows how to listen to you and to your community issues and then will take action to pursue a better, fairer process for us all.
 

I will push forward at the table for the right balance of economic, environmental and social issues that we all care about. There are many critical issues, for example affordable housing, water, a healthy environment, food security and many other issues which are important to you and your family. I am excited to take on this challenge.
 

I have worked as a Constituency Assistant for 12 years alongside MLA, Doug Routley and MLA, Bill Routley. I believe the compassion and courage I have developed in my years of working on behalf of the people of the Cowichan valley, will allow me to serve you well.
 

I was elected for four terms as a Cowichan Tribes Councillor from 2013 to 2022 and was appointed to the Cowichan Watershed Board in 2013 to present date. I also sat on the Salish Sea Initiative, Fishing, Health Advisory and Finance Committee, just to name a few.

I was elected to Municipality of North Cowichan in 2018 and I am the first elected female to have held both positions on two councils at the same time. 

 

I am the Chair of the First Nations Relations Committee and appointed to the Cowichan Valley Regional Board of directors. I became Deputy/Acting Mayor on March 1, 2022. I was appointed to the Pacific Salmon Commission, Southern Panel Member - Canadian Section in 2020-2025 and was appointed Indigenous Watershed Champion Initiative in May 2021 to present date.

I am also passionate about fighting for the protection of our local water, land and air but also understand the need for balance between our environment and a strong economy. We can truly have both; it does not have to be one or the other. I am an inclusive person who knows how to lead and will bring your voice to the table on social and economic issues.  

How would you find a balance between preserving rural neighborhoods while allowing for secondary dwellings for aging in place?

 

I support allowing secondary dwellings but also would support creating an Age-Friendly Community by adopting such features as safe, walk able streets; better housing and transportation options; access to key services; and opportunities for residents to participate in community activities. This will become great places for all ages and support aging in place.

Do you believe focusing on the development of affordable rental and supportive housing is a priority and if yes, how would you do so?


Yes, at our last council we passed a motion to support true affordable housing in a new development. We need to support diverse housing such as 3-4 bedroom units in apartments and smaller homes on smaller lots keeping in mind the growing population of seniors & young families


What is your position on the densification of existing neighborhoods and urban sprawl?

 

I would support in urban and rural neighborhoods accommodating basements suites and secondary dwellings also the move towards non-traditional housing options such as tiny homes.

Residents of the Sahtlam neighbourhood and those who use the trails in the area for recreation and cultural purposes are affected by intrusive noise from the Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit which was approved without any requirements for noise mitigation. Since businesses are exempt from North Cowichan noise by-laws, what strategies would you employ to protect residents and visitors from this noise pollution?

 

If I were to make it back on Council looking at revisiting the list of events that we were shared after turning down the expansion. I would follow up with what further measured we can take regarding the existing bylaw.